I love the sense of freedom that running gives me, that is why I now don’t enter many races; I don’t want to follow a set route or start at a set time. Most of my running is over open access land on Dartmoor and Bodmin moor so I can go where I want and don’t have to follow footpaths. You would have thought rules were the last thing I want, but I have some I live by when running and recently embraced two more.
I learnt about them at a recent Alps Ultra Running seminar. All the talk was about the Ultra-Trail du Mont Blanc (UTMB), but the organisers didn’t call it that because UTMB are as quick to sue over trade mark infringement as Buff are. The speakers had all completed the event, but at different levels. Nicky Spinks, who eats ultra for breakfast, (look up her CV) was very inspirational and almost in a throw away remark mentioned her ‘Rule of three.’ She explained that we all are guilty of knowing what we should do in an event and then not doing it. So her solution was the ‘Rule of three’; if you think of something three times do it. For example, if you think ‘I should eat something’, but can’t be bothered to get it out of your pack then think, ‘I should eat something’, but can’t be bother to get it out of your pack the third time you think it YOU DO IT!
I used that rule the other day while running on Dartmoor. The wind on top of the moor was making it colder than I had expected it to be. My extra layer was at the bottom of my backpack and I couldn’t be bothered to get it, it wasn’t that cold. The third time I thought about it I did it and that meant I didn’t get any colder and was happy to stay on the moor for a long time. Had I left it until later I would have been too cold and cut my run short. The rule extended my freedom.
The other rule was from Neil Thubron (Extreme Energy Events) and was a variation of my own 10 minute rule. His rule was that if you feel like dropping out of an event at a checkpoint go on for another ten minutes. If you still feel like dropping out after that 10 minutes go back to the checkpoint. 99% of the time you won’t go back. There aren’t any checkpoints on my runs over Dartmoor, but there are places where I can make a turn to shorten the route if I do not want to do the distance I had originally planned (a fairly loose concept for me). So, the next time I was out and wanted to cut back early I kept going for another 10 minutes, promising myself I’d turn back and take the shorter route if I still felt unmotivated. I didn’t turn back, but continued on and had a lovely run. Again more freedom time because of a rule.
My 10 minute rule is, if you don’t feel like going for a run, perhaps because you feel under the weather, go out anyway and if after 10 minutes you still feel bad go back. Most times I don’t turn back, but on the very few times I do it is the right decision.
Any rule that helps me run more is fine by me, but don’t expect me to be conventional.